It now represents a commonplace assumption that, in order for young people to be able to attain a social prominence, they must be capable of understanding how the matter, in which they address life-challenges, will affect their future. Unfortunately, that is not something they may expect learning in schools and colleges – the places where students are being simply exposed to the professionally relevant knowledge, often without given the chance to reflect upon this knowledge’s discursive significance.
Therefore, in order for young people to learn how to act wisely, as something that has the value of a ‘thing in itself’, they are usually being left with no other option, but to socialize with individuals that happened to be much older than themselves, such as their grandfathers and grandmothers. As practice indicates, this kind of a socialization, on the part of the representatives of younger generations, often proves beneficiary, in respect of encouraging the latter to act wisely – hence, increasing their chances to make proper choices in life.
The validity of this statement can be well explored in regards to the essay Inspired Eccentricity by Bell Hooks, in which the author expounds on her memories of its grandparents Baba and Daddy Gus. It is well worth noting that at the essay’s very beginning, Hooks suggests that her own individuality has been formed by what happened to be the individualities of the two earlier mentioned persons: “Reflecting on the eclectic writer I have become, I see in myself a mixture of these two very different but equally powerful figures (Baba and Daddy) from my childhood” (Hooks 291).
As we are well aware of, despite having been raised in the impoverished Black family, during the course of the fifties, and despite having been forced to deal with White people’s racism, Hooks was nevertheless able to overcome the impossible odds and to become America’s famous female writer. Therefore, given the author’s admiration of her grandparents, stated early in the essay, we can well assume that there is nothing accidental about it.
Apparently, the very manner in which Hooks reflects upon her childhood memories of Baba and Daddy, implies that the author’s possession of certain psychological qualities, which allowed her to attain a literary fame later in her life, came about as a direct result of Hooks have been taught ‘wiseness’ by its grandparents.
For example, while talking about her grandmother Baba, Hooks points out to the fact that, despite having been an essentially illiterate person, she was nevertheless smart enough to recognize the sheer fallaciousness of the idea that, in order for just about anyone to be considered an upstanding citizen, he or she has to attend church on a regular basis.
As the author noted: “Baba had no use for church. She liked nothing better than to tell us all the ways it was one big hypocritical place: ‘Why, I can find God anywhere I want to – I do not need a church’” (293). It goes without saying, of course, that Hooks’ exposure to Baba’s anti-religious attitude helped the author to recognize an organized religion, as to what it really is – the tool that the rich and powerful use, while striving to keep the society’s unprivileged members in the state of an intellectual arrogance.
In its turn, this created preconditions for Hooks to become a feminist later in her life – a person who is being perfectly aware of how, throughout the course of history, the religion of Christianity has been used to legitimize men’s patriarchal oppression of women (Comaroff and Comaroff 10).
Hooks’ intellectual progressiveness can also be partially explained by the fact that, due to her fondness of grandpa, she learned early enough to remain critical to the claims of the officially sponsored ideology – especially if the latter promotes the idea that young men should be happy serving as a ‘cannon meat’, during the time of war.
According to the author: “It was my grandfather who taught me to oppose war… I saw him as a man of profound beliefs, as a man of integrity… He was not gonna let anybody tell him what to do with his life” (292). Apparently, Daddy was wise enough to understand that there can be very little ‘glory’ in risking the chance of being killed, while killing other young men, who happened to be ‘enemies’, so that the weapon-manufacturing companies on both sides would able to increase their profits dramatically (Barkey and Parikh 527).
Had those young men, who volunteer to join the army, while facing the ‘opportunity’ come back home in coffins or armless/legless, been fortunate enough to have a chance to socialize with the person like Hooks’ Daddy, they would have thought twice, before rushing to prove the sheer strength of their patriotic feelings.
As it was mentioned earlier, by having succeeded in becoming the America’s famous female-writer, Hooks did manage to beat the impossible odds for this to happen, in the first place. In its turn, this can be partially explained by the fact that, ever since her young years, the author affiliated herself with the virtue of self-reliance.
In this respect, the author’s close affiliation with her grandparents came as a particularly valuable asset, because by listening to their life-stories, Hooks grew to realize the fact that, allegorically speaking, one’s endowment with the strongly defined sense of a will power can move mountains. As Hooks noted: “In their own way my grandparents were rebels, deeply committed to radical individualism.
I learned how to be myself from them. Mama hated this… (world) where folks made their own vine, their own butter, their own soap…” (294). This, of course, contributed rather substantially towards the author’s emotional comfortableness with the existential mode of a fully self-reliant individual, who in fact likes addressing life-challenges.
Consequently, throughout the course of her life, Hooks was able to tackle hardships in the particularly courageous manner, without referring to ‘world’s injustices’, as such that deprived her of a rationale to even try making the best of its life – quite unlike to what it happened to be the case with many of today’s young people of color.
Thus, what has been said earlier, does confirm the soundness of the paper’s initial thesis – young people are indeed in a position to learn much about life, in general, and about what may account for life-challenges/opportunities, in particular, while remaining in close touch with their elderly relatives.
In its turn, this will help them to act wise in times when they make important decisions that will affect their future. Apparently, even one’s illiterate grandparents are much more capable of giving him or her the ‘lessons of wisdom’, as compared to what it happened to be the case with the concerned individual’s parents or teachers. I believe that this conclusion fully correlates with the paper’s original thesis.
Barkey, Karen and Sunita Parikh. “Comparative Perspectives on the State.” Annual Review of Sociology 17.3 (1991): 523-549. Print.
Comaroff, Jean and John Comaroff. “Christianity and Colonialism in South Africa.” American Ethnologist 13.1 (1986): 1-22. Print.
Hooks, Belle. “Inspired Eccentricity”.